Imagine if you will, that you received a letter in the mail. It was from an anonymous sender with no return address. This is what was written in the letter,
“Mr. Carnal Christian, we have your mother, and father. We have agents all over the world, and surveillance running 24/7. The next time you sin by lusting after that co-worker, or by looking at pornography, or by hating the jerk who voted for the other candidate, we are going to beat your mother, and father like dogs. We will stop when they aren’t recognizable as humans.”
Now since you have recently heard from Mom, and Dad, you assume this is some kind of sick joke. The disturbing message bounces around in your head for the next few days. You see Ms. Jezebel at work, and the way she looks, and flirts with you, makes you feel excited, and you know your wife will never find out. It isn’t like you are actually doing anything with her. After all, it is just flirting. You remember the letter for a moment, and say to yourself, “What a sick joke.”
The next day, your wife and kids go to town to shop, while you are like King David, staying home from the battle, ignoring your duties as King. Everyone is gone, but double-u, double-u, double-u, dot, Bathsheba dot, com is waiting for you on her rooftop. No one will know. Your browser has a built in feature to scrub this kind of… indiscretion from it’s history. What about that letter though? What kind of twisted mind comes up with something like that? As you look, you feel the guilt, but the hungry flesh won’t let you go.
“I can’t believe Mr. Pinko would vote for that traitor. Man, it is guys like that who are ruining this country. I hate them all so much! They should all be put in camps, or killed!” Your post on social media gets tons of likes, and you feel like you did something to help from your superior position.
You receive another letter in the mail, much like the first one, it is anonymous with no return address. The missive communicates, “Apparently, you didn’t believe us, but your mother, and father have been beaten like we promised.” This is preposterous! There is no way this is true.
The next scenario is much the same, but instead of a letter, you receive a voice message with the same information. The same things happen, and after you failed to believe the warning, you receive a recording with the sounds of people who are being beaten. It sounds like your parents, but you are incredulous. You won’t believe that someone would do this to your parents because of your… little mistakes.
This following scenario is just like the first two, but instead of being a letter, or a solely an audio recording, it is a video ,and recording. The video is of two people who look exactly like your mom, and dad. In the video they say their names, and beg you not to engage in those wretched sins, but you think to yourself, “This can’t be real. It must be one of those deep fakes. Yes, that must be what it is, and you engage in all of your previous weaknesses, after all, you can’t help yourself. You’re an addict. It is a disease, right?” Afterwards, you are sent the recording of those two people being reduced to bloody pulps, lying on the ground in their own gore, sobbing in misery. “This can’t be real. It is some disgusting trick to get me to act a different way. My parents are fine. I love them so much. I would never put them through this.” Your thoughts are those of disbelief.
In this last scenario, a buxom Ms. Jezebel is in the room with you. She is willing. A smartphone with an internet connection is there too. All you have to do is punch in the address, and you can see, and hear all of the perversion your little heart desires. You can also spew your hate for all people who aren’t like you out into the pseudo-world of social media. This time however is very different. The people who sent you the letters, audio messages, and the videos are there with you. They have your mom, and dad. This is real. You still don’t believe that someone could do this, but it is real. You are talking with your mom, and dad. Their captors are warning you, and watching you. Just for a moment it seems like your captors aren’t paying attention, and Ms. Jezebel is really turning up the heat on you. You start to flirt back, but as soon as you started thinking about it, the captors began scourging your parents. Their screams of pain shook you free from your sinful lusts. You turned just in time to see them being whipped for your sin. Now, since you do love them, you stopped what you were doing, and ran to their captors begging them to have mercy. With that, they stopped, but warned you not to engage in your sins again, or they would suffer.
How real is the suffering of Jesus to you? Is it as real as what is written on paper, but not real enough to fight against your sinful temptations?
Is it as real as a podcast from one of your favorite theologians warning against a luke-warm faith?
Is it as real as an internet video sermon on our love for ourselves, and our loved ones, outshining our love for Christ?
It is one thing to think of Christ suffering in our place, the punishment for our sins. It is another to actually realize it. Is the suffering of Jesus Christ, your beloved Savior real to you? Do the thoughts of His scourging, crucifixion, and having the wrath of God poured out on Him, on the cross cause you to tremble in remorse, and sorrow? It is easy to say we are Christians. I’m as guilty as any of you. Our love for Christ grows distant, and cold. As this happens, the reality of what He did on the cross loses the hard corners of reality that breaks into our slumbering consciences. Our love for our own flesh outweighs our love for Christ. We feed our sins without considering our God who saves. Jesus said in His word, ““If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.” Does that sound like a faith that has room for your pet sins? Does that sound like a life that can be lived in comfort, with not a single shot fired from your ship against the fleet of the devil? Does that sound like a call to peace with the world’s forces? No! It is a call to arms! It is a battle cry! I’m tired as well brothers, and sisters, but we can’t give up the fight. When you, or I fall to sin, we must immediately, while still on our knees repent! Don’t wait until your guilt is dulled by the passing of time! Don’t wait, hoping God’s memory of the sin will fade! Confess, right there on your knees, in the dirt. Confess to Him what He already knows, and beg His mercy grounded on what He did on the cross. We don’t deserve it, but He offers it. That is what grace is. It is unmerited favor. God will forgive you, if you call on the name of Jesus. His is faithful, and just to do so.
The next time you are fighting sin, think of your beloved Savior, Jesus, next to you, in the room. If you love Him, would you have Him tortured for your carnal indulgence in treason against the King of all? I hope this thought, held high in our minds, will keep us from sin. I hope we can employ this vivid imagery of what is real, and true to stop us before we commit such evil. Lord have mercy on us we ask in the name of Jesus. We confess that we have sinned against you, and justly deserve your wrath, but Christ has stood in our stead. Please sanctify us, and grow us in holiness. Use us for Your glory, amen.